A VHP activist’s tweet bragging about cancelling a cab booking because the driver was Muslim offered has provoked outrage. “Cancelled @Olacabs Booking because Driver was Muslim. I don’t want to give my money to Jihadi People,’’ Abhishek Mishra posted on Twitter.
Mishra, who claims to be a “Hindutva thinker” on Twitter said he had done so in reaction to social media posts allegedly maligning Hindu gods and symbols. He said he was particularly outraged over such posts in the aftermath of an 8-year-old girl’s rape and murder in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua.
Mishra cited social media posts by women Twitter users expressing fears about using cabs with the “militant nature” of a particular photograph of Hanuman. “And after Kathua incident, many drawings and cartoons showing Hindu symbols like Shivalinga were in poor taste and an insult to our religion,” he told The Indian Express. “Seeing this, I put out the tweet about jihadis and a screenshot of the cancelled ride because we all know that the Muslim community has that image.”
The tweet prompted a backlash. “I remember an India where people who thought this way would have been ostracized rather than admired & ‘followed’. We need to #BringIndiannessBack,” MP Shashi Tharoor wrote. A spokesperson of cab aggregator Ola said, “ The company does not subscribe to the views of individuals who want to create disharmony by using our platform.”
UP minister of state for transport Swatantra Dev Singh, who is seen shaking hands with Mishra in a photograph on social media, distanced himself from the remarks. “Hundreds of people come to meet me daily. That does not mean the persons concerned represent the transport department or the transport department shares their views,’’ he said. Singh said Mishra was one of the 400 people who work in his office. “He forwards online grievances from the redressal portal to our department. He is not a government employee.’’
VHP spokesperson Sharad Sharma confirmed Mishra is a VHP worker. But he distanced himself from his tweet, saying it was Mishra’s personal opinion. Twitter refused to take action against Mishra, saying the tweet did not violate its rules.